The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Third Day: Tuesday, 9th April, 1946
(Part 5 of 12)

[DR. SERVATIUS continues his direct examination of Hans Heinrich Lammers]

[Page 156]

Q. It is the Reich Health Law referring to people suffering from heart and lung diseases.

A. I know nothing whatsoever about that law.

Q. Would you have had to know about it?

A. Yes, the Minister of the Interior would have had to know about it. Health matters were dealt with in his ministry. It never reached me.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have no further questions.

BY DR. STEINBAUER (counsel for defendant Seyss-Inquart):

Q. Witness, one day after the German troops marched into Austria a law was published - on 13th March, 1938 - which has the heading, "Law for the Reunion of Austria with the German Reich." Seyss-Inquart and his Government were surprised by the contents of this law. I now ask you whether you know the details as to how this law was decreed in Linz on 13th March, 1938.

A. Like every other radio listener I heard about the march of German troops into Austria through the radio. And since I assumed that I might be needed I went to Vienna. At that time the law bad already been signed and published. I did not participate in the drafting of this law; the Minister of the Interior and State Secretary Stuckart drafted that law. I did not work on it at all, because I didn't even know that this action was to take place.

Q. Did these gentlemen you just mentioned tell you, perhaps, why this law was published so precipitately?

A. It was the wish of the Fuehrer.

Q. Thank you. At the same time Dr. Seyss-Inquart was named S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer, not as the prosecution has stated, S.S. General, and in addition the Fuehrer promised him that within one year he would be made a member of the Reich Government. In 1939 he actually did become Minister without Portfolio. Did Seyss-Inquart in his capacity as an S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer and as Minister without Portfolio carry out any functions of any kind?

[Page 157]

A. As far as I know, Seyss-Inquart didn't become Obergruppenfuehrer but Gruppenfuehrer. That was merely an honorary rank which was given him. He had no power to issue orders in the S.S. and he never served in the S.S., as far as I know. He merely wore the uniform, and later on he became Obergruppenfuehrer.

Q. In other words, this was entirely an honorary rank, a matter of uniform, as you correctly say.

A. Yes, a sort of honorary rank.

Q. Thank you. One year later Seyss-Inquart was appointed Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands and in the Law Gazette for the Netherlands as well as in the Reich Law Gazette this appointment was published. Do you know whether, apart from this published decree which appointed him Reich Commissioner, he was also given a task within the framework of the Four-Year Plan?

A. From the moment of his appointment as Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands Seyss-Inquart experienced the same limitations of authority as I described yesterday in connection with Herr Frank and Herr Rosenberg. In other words, certain powers were held in reserve for the trustee for the Four-Year Plan who everywhere could exercise comprehensive command powers. To this extent his position was limited from the very beginning.

Q. What was the position of the German police in the Netherlands? Were the German police directly under the command of the defendant Seyss-Inquart or were they under the Reich Leader S.S. Himmler?

A. The conditions here are exactly the same, or similar, as I described them yesterday in connection with the Government General. The Higher S.S. and Police- Leader was at the disposal of the Reich Commissioner but his technical instructions came from Himmler.

Q. Thank you. Do you, witness, recollect that at the beginning of 1944 you forwarded to the defendant, in his capacity as Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands, an order from the Fuehrer to draft 250,000 workers in the Netherlands; and that Seyss-Inquart refused to do this?

A. This is the letter which I mentioned previously when I was being asked questions in connection with Sauckel. It is a circular letter in which everybody was asked to support Sauckel's action and individual offices were given orders regarding the numbers of workers they were to supply. However, I cannot remember whether the number was 250,000 workers in Seyss-Inquart's case. But I do know that Seyss- Inquart told me that he had considerable misgivings about getting the number ordered of him. He wanted to take these misgivings up with the Fuehrer.

DR. STEINBAUER: Thank you. I have no further questions.

BY DR. LATERNSER (counsel for General Staff and O.K.W.):

Q. Witness, did Hitler come to power in 1933 with the help of the Reichswehr, [REVIEWER'S NOTE: The Reichswehr was the defence force of 100,000 men allowed Germany by the Versailles Treaty.] that is, was there any military pressure employed in that connection?

A. I myself didn't participate directly in the seizure of power. I can't tell you, therefore, the exact details. At any rate, nothing is known to me about the Reichswehr having had any influence on the seizure of power. I assume that, if that had been the case, one would have heard about it.

Q. In 1934 there followed co-ordination of the offices of Head of State and Reich Chancellor in the person of Hitler. Could the military leaders have refused to swear the oath of allegiance to Hitler without violating a law?

A. The law regarding the Head of State was decreed constitutionally and thereby the Fuehrer became the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Any possibility of resisting did not exist. That would have been pure revolt; it would have been mutiny.

Q. Did you ever hear that military leaders made proposals regarding, the starting or the preparation of an aggressive war?

[Page 158]

A. No, not in the least.

Q. It is well known that Hitler did not permit military leaders any influence upon his political decisions. Did you know of any statements made by Hitler in which he denied the generals the right to a political judgement?

A. From the military point of view the Fuehrer praised the generals as a group and also individual generals very highly. As far as politics were concerned, he was always of the opinion that they knew nothing about politics and that one should, as far as possible, keep them away from a position where political matters had to be decided.

Q. It is also known that Hitler wouldn't suffer any contradiction. Wasn't that the real reason for Blomberg's dismissal and the dismissal of Fritsch and Beck - the act that they repeatedly contradicted him?

A. Yes, I assume that such personal differences in the end did bring about the dismissal of Schacht, Blomberg, von Neurath and von Fritsch. But I was never present at such conferences and I cannot therefore report what was said. But I do think that they often contradicted the Fuehrer.

Q. Did Hitler distrust the generals, particularly those of the Army?

A. One cannot generalise about that. The Fuehrer was rather reserved in his behaviour towards most people. He told each one only what actually concerned him. If you call that distrust, then this distrust was present in his relations with almost all ministers and generals, for nobody was told any more than the Fuehrer wanted him to hear.

Q. Among the circle of persons who had Hitler's complete confidence was there any military leader?

A. I do not believe so. I don't know of one.

Q. Now one last question: What was the reason for putting the bulk of the occupied territories under Reich commissioners and only a few of them under military administration?

A. As a rule it was the Fuehrer's wish that occupied territories be administered by political leaders. He considered generals unsuited for that task, because he accused them - I might put it this way - of having no political instinct.

Q. Wasn't it the plan to replace the military administration in Belgium by a civilian commissioner even before 1944?

A. That had long been provided for. Preparations had already been made, but the Fuehrer could not decide to put it in force because he had always been told that in the case of Belgium there were important military reasons for not establishing a civilian administration since Belgium might possibly become again a zone of combat. So the decision was postponed a year and still longer.

DR. LATERNSER: Thank you. I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Witness, there is one matter upon which I want to question you, as to the powers of Reich Ministers under the Constitution of Nazi Germany. It appears, from your testimony, that they were men with very little authority or jurisdiction or power of command of any kind, that they were men of straw. Is that so?

A. Well, to say no authority goes too far. I mean in respect to politics...

Q. But, they were of an extremely limited character. That is what you are saying to the Tribunal, isn't it?

A. In the main they were administrative chiefs in their ministries. They were not political ministers who were consulted in regard to large-scale political matters.

Q. Less authority than the ministers of Germany had under the previous Constitution?

A. That, beyond doubt, was the case, for under the former Constitution votes

[Page 159]

were taken and the minister could at least give expression to his authority by voting against something in the Cabinet.Q. I am now going to put to you some observations which you yourself made in 1938 about the powers of ministers in the Fuehrer's State. I am referring to Document 3863-PS. This is your comment on the Staatsfuehrer in the Third Reich:
"From this basic total concentration of supreme power in the person of the Fuehrer there results, however, no excessively strong and unnecessary centralisation of administration in the hands of the Fuehrer. In my general elaborations on the basic concept of the Fuehrer State I have already pointed out that the authority of the subordinate leader (Unterfuehrer) on those beneath him forbids interference with every individual order or measure of his. This principle was manipulated by the Fuehrer in his governmental leadership in such a manner that, for example, the position of the Reich ministers was actually a much more independent one than formerly, even though the Reich ministers were subordinate to the Fuehrer's unlimited power of command in respect to their entire official sphere, and in respect to every individual measure and decision in the most trivial matters. Eagerness to bear responsibility, ability to make decisions, energy, coupled with initiative, and real authority - these were the qualities which the Fuehrer demanded above all of his subordinate leaders. Therefore he allowed them the greatest freedom in the execution of their affairs and in the manner in which they fulfilled their tasks."
That is a picture of the power of Reich Ministers, which is very different from the picture you are painting to the Tribunal, is it not?

A. In my opinion there is not the least contradiction. All I am saying here is that every minister normally had no say in respect to large-scale policies. In his own sphere, however, he was the supreme administrative chief. I explained here, that as a subordinate leader he had the widest powers, in so far as the Fuehrer had left him those powers, and that the Fuehrer did not narrow-mindedly interfere with these powers. He did not think of doing that. This concerns matters of second- and third-grade importance; large-scale policies were not discussed here.

Q. You see, your picture of the administration of this vast State of Nazi Germany is a picture of one man deciding all principal matters himself by his own intuitive powers. Is that the picture you seek to present to this Tribunal?

A. Yes. The Minister was the supreme leader in his own sphere and in so far as he was not limited, he had greater powers than any minister previously had had, because the Fuehrer did not interfere in small matters.

Q. In the case of the defendant Funk, for instance, you say that he was a small man with no authority, with no influence upon the decisions of affairs. Is that so?

A. Regarding the large-scale political decisions he had no authority. But within his department he had considerable influence. But those were matters of second- or third-grade importance.

Q. But decisions - but as to profoundly important economic questions like the amount of wealth that was to be extracted from the occupied territories, the Fuehrer's decisions were based upon the representations and recommendations of ministers like Funk, were they not?

A. I do not know about that. The finance policy in occupied territories was handled by the Minister for the Eastern Territories and the Reich Commissioners together with the Reich Finance Minister.

Q. But as to decisions on economic matters concerned with the occupied territories, like recommendations as to occupation costs, as to the technique of purchasing on the black market, men like Funk had to give recommendations for determination of policy on these matters, did they not?

A. He co-operated, yes, but he did not have authority over the Reich Commissioner in the occupied territories. The Reich Commissioner was directly under Hitler.

[Page 160]

Q. All these ministers co-operated in their sphere and were indispensable to the running of this Nazi State, were they not?

A. Yes, of course, co-operation was a necessity. This does not mean that Funk had power to issue orders in the occupied territories. He certainly had none.

Q. You, so far as Funk is concerned, were concerned with making quite clear what his position was in the State. Do you recollect that you were concerned with clearing up the matter as to whether he, Funk, was directly subordinate to the Fuehrer or not? Do you remember that?

A. Yes, Funk, as a minister, was of course under the Fuehrer.

Q. And he was advising the Fuehrer himself, was he not?

A. He very rarely saw the Fuehrer.

Q. But he - in the vital sphere of the financing of rearmament, for instance - he had important decisions to communicate to the Fuehrer and advise the Fuehrer upon, did he not?

A. I don't know to what extent the Fuehrer sent for him for I was not present at conferences regarding armament credit and rearmament.

Q. I want to ask you one further question regarding ministerial matters. Ministers without Portfolio did continue to receive communications as to the Reich Cabinet, did they not?

A. They received texts of subjects up for discussion.

Q. The defendant Frank, for instance, was a Minister without Portfolio?

A. Yes.

Q. He continued to receive communications in his capacity as a Minister without Portfolio?

A. He received all the texts which were received by other ministers, provided there was a general distribution.

Q. And indeed, when he was the Governor General of the Government General, he maintained a ministerial office to deal with the incoming matters of the Reich Cabinet?

A. Whom are you talking about - Frank?

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.